Ghana appoints experts to draw up ‘radical’ new plan for museums and monuments

This article was first published by The Art Newspaper

Ghana has appointed a 13-person committee to advise the government on a “radical” new direction for the country’s museums and cultural heritage sites. The President’s Committee on Museums and Monuments will be run by the Accra-based ANO Institute of Arts and Knowledge and chaired by the international development advisor Edward Ayensu, a former senior scientist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.

According to a press statement, the committee aims “to investigate radical new ways of presenting narratives, as well as engaging communities from across social divides in Ghana, so that they might see themselves properly represented in their museums”. A report of their findings will be published in late 2020, examining the history and current organisation of the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board, which was established in 1957 on the eve of independence from British colonial rule.

The board is responsible for museums across the country including the National Museum in Accra as well as Ghana’s Unesco World Heritage sites: ten traditional Asante Kingdom buildings near Kumasi and 28 coastal forts and castles—European outposts of the gold trade and later the transatlantic slave trade.

The President’s Committee includes experts in architecture, archaeology, art history, education, business, finance and law, among them Nana Oforiatta Ayim, the founder of ANO and curator of the acclaimed first Ghana Pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale. Afu Nkansah-Asamoah, a London-based youth campaigner who conducted research on the Asante gold collection at the Wallace Collection, is also part of the group.